Smile PreCure! Episode 35: Domo Arigato, Cure Roboto

A celebration of Yayoi and the giant robot merchandising machine.

After a month or so of somewhat pedestrian showings, Smile PreCure is back in the zone with episode 35, a robot-themed installment reminiscent of the robot series of mecha anime past and present. While the Pretty Cure franchise lacks the history and pedigree that a Gundam would have (though now, I imagine just how strange a decades-old PreCure would look like), the magical girl and mecha genres have always been about selling toys and doing so through immensely enjoyable media.

And this is exactly what this week’s Smile brought about. It’s no Nanoha in terms of unadulterated action, but the spirit of the series tackles on the spirit of merchandise-driven super-herodom through the perspective of the resident Otaku of the cast (and 2012 Saimoe representative, believe it or not), Yayoi Kise. She sweeps up the other girls in her enthusiasm for the in-universe Robotaa franchise, even when confronted by the Bad End trio, who are also caught in the merchandising frenzy.

Not only does Majorina turn Cure Happy into a giant robot, but the two hyper-akanbe summoned by Aka Oni and Wolfrun take the form of giant robots as well. Unlike normal hyper-akanbe, who are directly controlled by their summoners, Oni and Wolfrun pilot them in classic robot-style, as do the girls with Happy-Robo.

PreCure Robot Punch!

The resulting battle is a blend of classic PreCure choreography, mashed up with pilot dialogue and the perfect dose Smile antics, capped off by a remarkably amazing spotlight for Cure Peace, who takes over the entire episode with her charm and enthusiasm (more on her in a bit). The above screenshot is one of numerous amazing angles through which the fight scene is shot, where everything that you would expect from a robot show.

Halfway thorugh, Oni and Wolfrun literally combine their robots together into a winged gattai-akanbe, a combination matched by a formidable Happy-Robo with butterfly wings powered by cure décor a la episode 14. The entire sequence, combined with Hisako Kanemoto’s wonderful performance as Yayoi, made for the best Smile episode in the second half of the series.

Peace leads the way with her enthusiasm for giant robots. We the audience can’t help but follow.

Although Smile PreCure is primarily driven by an ensemble cast of five, Yayoi/Cure Peace has always been the flagship Cure of the franchise. She’s the token moe character (moe in the most modern database-sense of the term), but for more reasons than what she originally let on in the beginning of the series. It feels like déjà vu having to explain the “depth” behind Yayoi Kise’s character, but I apologize as a number of details have been added to Yayoi’s backstory that I have missed out on in blogging this series (to note, Yayoi’s spotlight episode with her deceased father is the first episode omitted from my blogging absence).

Depth aside, however, what is brought to the forefront in the most effective way is Yayoi’s unbound enthusiasm for superheroes and robot shows. Her face is superbly animated throughout the episode, namely in the eyes and hand gestures. There’s a remarkable dynamic behind her fandom, above which she ascends, but still has not yet embraced. After Happy-Robo is defeated, it takes encouragement from Miyuki herself to perk Yayoi right back up, as she remembers everything that she is fighting for. It’s the ultimate ideal that a fan strives for, and Yayoi is living it first-hand with her own power.

Peace gets by with a little help from her friends.

In the tradition of PreCure, she requires a push from her friends to reach those new heights.

None of this is possible without the remarkable talent of Hisako Kanemoto, who has really come into her own ever since her breakout performance as Ika Musume. She has intensity in her voice that she translates into different types of vocal characterization. The most noticeable of this is her ability to convey enthusiasm and curiosity. As Kanata Sorami in Sora no Woto, Hisako communicated in a variety of ways her love for the trumpet, and portrayed a girl who took in the weight of war through the hopes and dreams of her friends and the village that she protected (in her own way). Ika Musume showcases the curiosity side of Hisako’s character repertoire, a peculiar character who, despite her twisted goals of vengeance against humanity, discovers a whole world of things that humans do. Despite her claims to world domination, Ika conquers the world in her own way, by becoming an important part of it herself.

The two characters here are moe in their own way, and Cure Peace is a culmination of Hisako’s experience with the two. She brings out the enthusiasm of Kanatawith the stubbornness of Ika. She has the idealism of the former but also the latter’s knack for discovery. Within an ensemble cast, Cure Peace is a complete character, and Hisako Kanemoto brings her to life into the most adorable PreCure yet. The audience cheers for her to succeed, and the Peace fandom is perhaps the most vocal yet. Her fanart on pixiv is rivaled by none, and she is even in the group finals of Saimoe, cementing her in the top 16 at the very least. The last time a Cure has made it to the top 8 of Saimoe was Nagisa Misumi/Cure Black from the original Futari wa Pretty Cure, who lost to Nadja Applefield of Ashita no Nadja in 2004. 8 years later, regardless of whether or not Yayoi wins her group finals match, she will have already left her mark on the moe landscape, as well as cement herself in the hall of heroines in the PreCure multiverse.

Yayoi Kise, I salute you with a jan-ken-pon. I wish you luck in future episodes of Smile PreCure; it’s really starting to get good once again!

5 thoughts on “Smile PreCure! Episode 35: Domo Arigato, Cure Roboto

  1. Oh man Yayoi themed episode all the way and yeah the one about her father was so touching, I should re-watch it and have all the feels once again, but I was a bit surprised that Yayoi was such a huge mecha fan or should I? I mean she does love her superhero stories so i could see something like giant robot stories interesting her <3

    Hisako Kanemoto is jumping to my personal number one spot for voice actors every week with these recent Smile episodes like the carnival episode where she is bowling? LOL That was fantastic! Because she is also really excited in that and somewhat hyper. Beside Precure and Ika she had some great emotion in Kuroko Connect as Yui and I loved hearing her work in Sora no Woto as Kanata, but it really shows us that she has a great range of work…even though she will always be Ika or Yayoi to me <3

    Anyway this episode was quite hilarious and Yayoi steals the show! I hope she goes far in the saimoe and the rest of Smile PreCure!

    1. It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that Yayoi is interested in giant robot stories as she is with superhero/sentai stories. Both are heavily merchandise-driven fandoms, and there is a lot of room for overlap. After all, Yayoi is the Otaku of the group. Her enthusiasm for many things lends well to her love for both genres. It’s also worth noting that thematically, what she admires about both genres is the strength of the protagonist, usually someone who is just as strong in belief and ideal as he or she is in their ability to defend those beliefs. She strives to be like them, which further drives her love for those kinds of things.

      Hisako Kanemoto was really great in Kokoro Connect as well. She really showed her versatility in that show, especially during the body-swap arc, as she was highly competently able to portray the personalities of all of the main characters that swapped with Yui’s body. Despite the awkward (and arguably problematic) execution of Yui’s androphobia, Hisako was able to make the most of the lines that she was given.

      Probably most dramatic of all, I really loved her portrayal of Watashi’s roommate in the last two episodes of Jintai. Not only did the show succeed wildly at throwing a curveball with the various character reveals, but Hisako really hit a home run with her delivery of her lines, which put me at more unease than most other characters with a similar type of mental problem.

      At the end of the day, I really wonder which of her characters will stand out the most for me. With the obvious fandom that I have for precure in general, I wouldn’t be surprised if Yayoi turned out to be that character. If you think about it, Smile PreCure is probably her largest body of work, as far as number of episodes and lines go. Good for her!

  2. Oooh right! I almost forgot her crazy role on Jintai! Whoa…that was a out there character for Hisako to play and yeah I think Smile Precure will be the hit series that launches Hasako into bigger roles because there are sooooooo many episodes! I can’t wait to see her star as a lead character instead of playing the side girl most of the time.

    Yayoi and her love of mecha <3 BEST COMBINATION EVER <3

Leave a Reply